19 Phrases You Need to Cut From Your Resume Right Now
Before you cross the two page benchmark on your resume with another bullet
point, consider deleting cliché and useless information first.
It might take more time to determine what’s okay to remove,
but it’s a better strategy than reducing font size or trimming the margins of
your resume, which can make your resume look off.
In this article, we take a quick look at what phrases you should remove from your resume. With just a bit of editing, your resume will read with more professionalism and keep within its concise, to the point format.
Remove These 7 Meaningless Resume Phrases and Words
It’s important that every word on your resume pulls its own weight in presenting you as a talented candidate. You don’t want anything unessential on your resume that will distract hiring managers.
Here are a few phrases and information you can safely remove from your resume, as they don’t add value and take up unnecessary space:
1. “References Available Upon Request”
This phrase is useless because employers will ask for your
references when they need it. It’s
assumed that candidates have already pre-arranged this with their former colleagues
and college professors.
Similar resume phrases to
delete: “References Upon Request,”
“References Provided Upon Request” and “Resume References Available Upon
Don’t put the word “Resume”
at the top of your application. The fact that you’re sending a resume should be
obvious the instant someone opens the file.
It also doesn’t help if you use “Resume” as the document’s file name. Add your
complete name so hiring managers can easily find it.
3. “Duties Included”
is often written before the list of bullet points for each job title listed in
the resume’s work experience section.
It’s not just a waste of space. It also suggests that you
only did what you were paid to do—nothing more and nothing less. Instead, write bullet
points about your achievements and job-specific skills to stand out from other
candidates. Don’t waste this space on everyday duties.
Similar phrase to
delete: “Responsible for”.
4. Personal Data
Only your email, phone number, and address are needed in
your resume. Your birthday, Social Security number, and religious or political
views are unnecessary, and may even hinder your application.
Vitae in other countries might require personal information, especially
if used for immigration purposes. But most States prevent employers from
seeking personal information to uphold equal opportunity employment.
5. Obvious Skills
Nissar Ahamed of Career Metis
says, “Remove Microsoft Word, Excel, and
other common applications from your resume. These are bare essential skills for
any job function today. You are only stating the obvious, and it does not add
any value to your resume.”
Employers assume you already have these skills anyway, and
no one will use them as keywords when searching for applicants in an ATS.
Raffellini of the 9 to 5 Project also shared
another obvious skill to delete: communication skills.
explains, “When I critique resumes, my
biggest comment is ‘What does this mean?’ Simply listing communication skills
is vague, if you think about it from the employer’s prospective.”
6. Employer Contact Information
Listing your employer’s address and phone number is
unnecessary. Like the phrase “References
available upon request,” this information is useless at this point in your
Your potential employer doesn’t need it until they start
conducting a background check on you, which isn’t until you bested other
applicants in the interview process.
Giving your employer’s phone number and email address too
early can also jeopardize your current employment. All office calls and emails
are monitored, so it’s best to avoid using these communication lines if you
don’t want to be accused of intellectual property theft or misuse of business
resources. You can get fired earlier than you planned
if your boss finds out you’re looking for another job.
7. “Selected As”
Applicants often use this phrase to cite work projects they
were chosen to lead or manage. Being in charge of a group of people or a major
project is impressive, but employers are more interested in what you did with
For an Account Manager chosen to work in liaison with
“Directed team sales presentation efforts, leading
to huge contracts with major food and beverage corporations”
For a Team Leader chosen as an Interim General
Manager for a failing golf and leisure club:
“Created a kid’s day camp program that grew over
350% in 5 years”
As you can see from the examples, it’s better to explain what happened while you’re in charge,
instead of stating you were selected for a task and leaving it at that.
Delete These 12 Cliché and Useless Phrases From Your Resume
A study from Princeton
University revealed that applicants who used highfalutin words in their
writing were thought of as untrustworthy and overcompensating by their
Remember that study, next time you’re tempted to use a big
word in your resume or cover letter.
This section includes different superfluous words, clichés,
and useless resume phrases that lost its meaning because
of overuse from applicants.
probably the most common fancy word applicants use when they want to add a
little gravitas to their work. “Use” just
seems lacking when written alongside employment achievements, maybe because
it’s just a three letter, one syllable word.
Simply replacing “use”
with “utilize” doesn’t make your
achievements a little grander though. It’s better to quantify the achievement,
or find a better action verb to describe what you did.
Media Manager,” “Experienced Graphic Designer,” and “Experienced Front-Web
Developer,” these are all common ways applicants describe themselves on
The word doesn’t say much about the quality of your
experience in your field. You can be considered “experienced” in a particular task whether you’ve done it 10 times
or every day for two years. It’s an imprecise way to describe length or quality
of work rendered.
in developing social media reports” is redundant if your job title is
already listed as “Social Media Analyst,”
for example. A better way to describe your experience is to list the types of
reports you create, and how often you make them.
Similar words to
delete from your resume: “Seasoned,” “qualified,”
“well-versed” and “skilled”.
10. “Results Driven”
Career Coach Margaret Buj, says,
“I see a lot of resumes of people who say they’re ‘results-driven.’ Says who?”
Buj suggests replacing this phrase with events in your
previous employment that prove your drive for results.
Similar resume phrase to
delete: “Results oriented” and “goal oriented”.
Cheryl Palmer of Call to Career, says “Dependable doesn’t add value to the resume, because every worker
should be dependable.”
If you think about it, who would hire an applicant who
admits they’re not dependable?
Come up with a better way to describe how you’re a reliable
and consistent performer instead. Don’t just use fluffy words, try to recall
moments in your previous work where you had to go the extra mile when everyone
else couldn’t deliver.
Similar phrases to
delete: “Loyal” and “trustworthy”.
Everyone says they’re passionate about their work. But in
reality, a good chunk of those people are just passionate about receiving a
It’s okay, employers know this that’s why being ‘passionate’ about a job is such a
cliché. So there’s no need to feign interest in your resume. You can be good at
something without liking it. Besides, your skills, previous employment
experience, and educational background are better indicators of your ability as
Palmer says applicants who describe their skills and
previous work experience as “exceptional”
come across as self-congratulatory.
Coming of as an arrogant applicant can put your application
at risk, if you don’t list equally amazing feats to validate your claims. It’s
a subjective phrase like results-driven.
List the awards and recognition you’ve won from
previous employers if you want to talk about how exceptional you are:
- 1st Place, Innovation
in Engineering Award, 2015
- 2nd Place, Security
Bank Hackathon, 2016
14. “Team Player” and “People Person”
Your resume states you’re a team player or a people person.
Unfortunately, the recruiter just can’t take your word for it. You have to show
them how you’ve worked in teams before, and the result of said group effort.
- Launched a successful Kickstarter
Campaign that won over 250% in funding by collaborating with the marketing,
product development, and customer service teams
- Collaborated with the accounting division to
reduce overall budget by $300,000 and long term debt by 15%.
This is just a different way of saying you have initiative.
Like “team player,” you need to show
proof of this to make it believable in your resume. Mention a time when
your initiative averted a problem, or saved your employer money.
What does “dynamic”
even mean on a resume?
Does it mean the applicant is constantly changing, or does
it refer to the applicant’s energy level? Either way, this quality is of no
interest to employers. It’s also quite hard to describe this quality in an
objective and tangible way on paper.
Unless you’re applying for a freelance role, employers
already expect that you’re willing to adjust your schedule to fulfill your
duties at work.
Highlight your flexibility instead by chronicling
simultaneous projects you handled for one employer. This demonstrates your
flexibility in terms of the workload that you can handle, and the variety of
tasks you can juggle without losing track.
Here’s an example for how an HR Manager can show
- Supervise 3 direct reports in the compensation
and benefits administration of a 100-man workforce
- Identify unnecessary tasks to save
manpower and reduce labor costs
- Review company-sponsored
retirement plans to ensure compliance with IRS’ rules
This isn’t a vague word or overused cliché, it’s much worse
because it downplays your value.
Applicants sometimes use this word when they refer to tasks they were involved in. It’s an all-encompassing term, that’s why it’s
easier to write “assisted” when there’s
a better suited word like “collaborated,”
“contributed,” or “directed.”
instead of taking time to come up with a more appropriate verb for your action
makes your contribution sound petty, as if all you did was take notes or make
Compare the Following
“Assisted in creating
a cross-departmental social group for hiking and volunteer events”
participants from different teams to create a cross-departmental social group
for hiking and volunteer events”
The first sentence doesn’t state what kind of assistance you
provided in forming said social group, while the second sentence makes it clear
that you played a major role in finding participants from different teams, and
making them come together to join the group.
Here’s Another Comparison
“Assisted the HR Team
in onboarding new interns”
“Guided interns on
their first day at work by introducing them to the team they will work with,
and touring them around the office”
Don’t bother claiming you’re a hard worker in your resume.
Everyone else is doing it.
Employers evaluate a candidate’s hard work based on the
awards they’ve won and the difference they made to the company’s bottom line.
Similar phrase to
It’s Now Time to Edit Your Resume
Open your resume document now, and start deleting these cliché
and unnecessary phrases.
If you’re concerned your resume will be shorter and in
turn make you look less qualified, don’t worry. There’s no evidence that
suggests a long resume leads to more job offers.
But if you’re eager to fill in the blanks, you can always
add resume power phrases, new skills, and experience into your resume. Learn more in these helpful Envato Tuts+ resume tutorials:
How to Make Your Resume the Perfect Length (+To the Point)
How to Update and Improve Your Outdated Resume Quickly
You can also find popular resume templates on GraphicRiver, if you need to give your resume a professional design. Or, browse through more great resume templates in this curated selection of easy to use designs:
What phrases do you feel are important to remove from your resume? Let us know in the comments below.
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